Importance of Asia for UEFA broadcasting income

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has become a worldwide brand earning 800 million euros annually until 2009 from television and sponsorship deals for the UEFA Champions League. Its marketing and media rights director Philippe Le Floc’h told Ashwin Raman of The Edge Daily that the annual tournament of Europe’s elite football clubs has been UEFA’s biggest global revenue contributor annually since the European Cup was rebranded and reformatted into the UEFA Champions League 15 years ago. Le Floc’h was interviewed while visiting Kuala Lumpur for a three-day tour of the UEFA Champions League Trophy as part of UEFA’s initiative to acknowledge the importance of its audiences outside Europe.

“We control the TV rights for all the Champions League matches and we sell the rights and get sponsorship for a three- to four-year period. About 70% to 80% of the revenue collected will be distributed back to the clubs as prize money and TV rights. The remainder is given to national football associations of the participating teams, football clinics and solidarity payment to smaller leagues as well as for our own budget,” he said.

“In Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand — 62% of these markets have an interest in European football compared to 55% of the European market,” he said, adding that some 3.4 million Malaysians followed the UEFA Champions League on a regular basis. In the 2005/06 season, there was over 70 hours of coverage with 54 broadcasts on free TV in Malaysia.

Besides the UEFA Champions League, he said the regulatory body had recently taken over the distribution for the UEFA Cup from the quarterfinals stage onwards to increase interest in the competition, which features Europe’s second-tier clubs. He added that UEFA was expecting a turnover of 50 million euros annually from the competition for the next two years. After 2009, UEFA will assume control of the distribution rights from the first round of the competition. In addition, Le Floc’h said UEFA was expecting 1.5 billion euros in revenue from the UEFA EURO 2008 tournament that will see 14 nations battle it out next year to be crowned champion of Europe.

“Previously club A would sell the TV rights for its home matches and club B would sell the TV rights. And so some matches would be shown and others wouldn’t. Now, we have centralised the marketing for the UEFA Cup from the quarterfinals stage. We will start building the brand of the competition and bring in media partners to purchase the whole package,” he said.